Chapter XXXIII: A Different Game Of Hide And Seek
 

Once more Lightfoot the Deer was playing hide and seek in the Green Forest. But it was a very different game from the one he had played just a short time before. ou remember that then it had been for his life that he had played, and he was the one who had done all the hiding. Now, he was "it", and some one else was doing the hiding. Instead of the dreadful fear which had filled him in that other game, he was now filled with longing, -- longing to find and make friends with the beautiful stranger of whom he had just once caught a glimpse, but of whom every day he found tracks.

At times Lightfoot would lose his temper. Yes, Sir, Lightfoot would lose his temper. That was a foolish thing to do, but it seemed to him that he just couldn't help it. He would stamp his feet angrily and thrash the bushes with his great spreading antlers as if they were an enemy with whom he was fighting. More than once when he did this a pair of great, soft, gentle eyes were watching him, though he didn't know it. If he could have seen them and the look of admiration in them, he would have been more eager than ever to find that beautiful stranger.

At other times Lightfoot would steal about through the Green Forest as noiselessly as a shadow. He would peer into thickets and behind tangles of fallen trees and brush piles, hoping to surprise the one he sought. He would be very, very patient. Perhaps he would come to the thicket which he knew from the signs the stranger had left only a few moments before. Then his patience would vanish in impatience, and he would dash ahead, eager to catch up with the shy stranger. But always it was in vain. He had thought himself very clever but this stranger was proving herself more clever.

Of course it wasn't long before all the little people in the Green Forest knew what was going on. They knew all about that game of hide and seek just as they had known all about that other game of hide and seek with the hunters. But now, instead of trying to help Lightfoot as they did then, they gave him no help at all. The fact is, they were enjoying that game. Mischievous Sammy Jay even went so far as to warn the stranger several times when Lightfoot was approaching. Of course Lightfoot knew when Sammy did this, and each time he lost his temper. For the time being, he quite forgot all that Sammy had done for him when he was the one that was being hunted.

Once Lightfoot almost ran smack into Buster Bear and was so provoked by his own carelessness that instead of bounding away he actually threatened to fight Buster. But when Buster grinned goodnaturedly at him, Lightfoot thought better of it and bounded away to continue his search.

Then there were times when Lightfoot would sulk and would declare over and over to himself, "I don't care anything about that stranger. I won't spend another minute looking for her." And then within five minutes he would be watching, listening and seeking some sign that she was still in the Green Forest.